“Jo-Jo! Jo-Jo! Jo-Jo!” chants the crowd. They had their champion.
City Tap House and Old Glory barman Jo-Jo Valenzuela won the D.C. Craft Bartender’s Guild’s (DCBG) Budget Booze Build-Off competition at Cafe Saint Ex Tuesday night. Valenzuela toppled opponents throughout the event on his way to the finals where he defeated Dane Nakamura of Range. City Paper’s Jessica Sidman, Washington Post’s Fritz Hahn and DCBG’s Jason Strich, declared quickly and decidedly that Valenzuela’s cocktail was the winner.
— DC Craft Bartenders (@DCCraftBarGuild) February 25, 2014
The light-hearted contest was filled with several talented bartenders attempting to incorporate “cheap” products into the most palatable cocktails possible. The champion won a coveted bar-table spot at the 2014 Repeal Day Ball. There were plenty of oohs and ahhs during the event and certainly moments of all-out laughter.
While both finalist could barely recall the ingredients at the end of the round due to the excitement, Valenzuela managed to remember the recipe Wednesday morning. This little sipper, he calls the Mexican Slurpee, consisted of:
1 1/2 oz Absolut Cilantro
1/2 oz Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz grapefruit syrup
Shake ingredients. Double strain into a highball glass over crushed ice. Express lemon, lime and orange zest over the top and leave peels as garnish.
The base spirits were a little insane but somehow Valenzuela made it work and walked away the champ.
Guild president, Owen Thomson, revealed the secret ingredients at the start of each round. Any opinions about these brands and their quirky flavors could be heard in a low hum throughout the audience once announced. Some speculated about which bottles would end up being used.
The notorious Pinnacle products made a strong appearance. A bottle of cinnamon roll vodka and peachberry cobbler vodka could be found among the bunch. Fresh juices were used and appreciated. And eggs, interestingly enough, were popular choices for the contestants.
Anyone looking for a more serious drink could find Dan Searing mixing up punches and passing out glasses of the stuff. He jovially answered questions about the concoction, pointing it out as a variation on a recipe detailed in his book The Punch Bowl.
Valenzuela always has a smile on his face but last night he was ear-to-ear. He came out from behind the bar clutching his bar tools. Nodding his head as the crowd chanted…
— DLDGLG (@DLDGLG) February 26, 2014